Thursday, 3 November 2016

breaking wind

I don’t know how many Americans know this, but ‘trump’ is a genteel British English term for ‘fart’. Sound appropriate? The Republican candidate for US president, Donald Trump, is probably, by a considerable distance, the worst nominee for US president by one of the country’s main political parties in my lifetime. Yet his chances of winning the election on 8th November are not negligible, because his opponent is probably the worst Democratic nominee for president since her husband 20 years ago.

However, it is on Mr Fart that I want to concentrate. His attitude to women (and young girls) may be thoroughly disgusting; his calling his opponent ‘crooked’ may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black; his economic illiteracy may be lamentable; and his lack of understanding of geopolitics may be deplorable; but it his scientific credentials, or lack of them, that is the biggest cause for concern. Take his attitude to global warming:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
Twitter, 6th November 2012.
This fatuous comment is on a par with his recent claim that Mexico has been ‘stealing American jobs’. No it hasn’t! Manufacturing in the USA is simply too expensive, and if he’d been in the business of making things instead of running hotels and casinos, he would probably have been the first to move his factories south of the border. However, the following tweets on climate mark him as a total ignoramus:
NBC News just called it the great freeze — coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?
Twitter, 25th January 2014.
Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!
Twitter, 29th January 2014.
Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air — not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.
Twitter, 29th January 2014.
I never had much time for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, but she did have a science degree (chemistry), and I feel sure that she would have called him out on this outrageous line in bullshit. She would certainly have pointed out that the science is incontrovertible Mr Fart, but as she is no longer with us, allow me to explain instead.

First, I should point out that to describe the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a ‘greenhouse effect’ is misleading. It should instead be described as an enhanced greenhouse effect, because water vapour in the atmosphere also has a warming effect. In fact, were it not for the presence, throughout Earth’s history, of this water vapour in the atmosphere, the planet would be uninhabitable, because the global average temperature would be around –20 degrees Celsius.

The mechanism by which this warming effect is created is clearly understood. The shape of a molecule (of water, carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) means that it blocks radiation at most wavelengths, but it does allow radiation through in the near infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This radiation then heats up the various surfaces of the planet, to a point where no more radiation can be absorbed and the surplus is re-radiated. But, and this is the crucial point, this re-radiated energy is at a longer wavelength, one that is blocked by the very molecules that allowed in the original shorter-wavelength radiation. This means, obviously, that more energy is entering the system than is disappearing back out into space, a fact that is confirmed by NASA’s monitoring satellites.

Now we come to the part that Mr Fart clearly cannot understand. More energy in the system means more turbulence, which in turn means more extremes of temperature and more violence in the weather. If the average global temperature is rising—and it is—then in addition to the places that are experiencing higher than usual temperatures and lower than usual rainfall, there will be places where temperatures are lower than usual and rainfall is higher. And as the planet warms up, these fluctuations will become more and more extreme, so that tropical cyclones, and the winter storms of more temperate latitudes, will be more intense, more violent, and more disruptive.

I’m not religious, but in appealing to American voters to reject this vile mountebank, I can think of nothing better than to quote the Old Testament:
The Philistines be upon thee, Samson.
Judges 16:20 (Authorized Version).
By which time, of course, it was too late.


  1. Putting Donald Trump in the White House would be like employing Jimmy Savile as your babysitter

    1. That is probably the most apt comparison I’ve heard on the subject. Thanks for that Keith.


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